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Cassius Clay declared himself the fastest, greatest, and prettiest of all prizefighters. As did Muhammad Ali. Yet there was something markedly different about the approach to showmanship between the pre- and post-conversion heavyweight champion. The scope had changed. Instead of seeking solely to glorify his own name and reputation, Ali was now rhyming, calling his shots, and mugging for the cameras for religious reasons, sociopolitical reasons. He saw himself as "The People's Champion," a defiant ambassador for all black, Muslim, and peace-loving people worldwide. His brash antics were in the service of Allah, not Ali. Of course, not even a name change and conversion could completely quash the vainglorious Cassius of his psyche. But, for the most part, Muhammad Ali was a changed man.
That more devout, truth-seeking, and gracious side of Ali shows itself in this remarkable spiritual exercise undertaken in December 1971 while Ali was in Zurich, Switzerland for his bout with Jurgen Blin. Not once does he mention the upcoming fight, or any other specific details about his stay. He is completely focused on the task at hand: assessing his existence and making resolutions for the future. Each 8-1/4" x 11-3/4" sheet of "Atlantis Hotel" stationery rates apparent NM with minimally "8-9" handwriting and signatures, and some stronger—featuring a much larger, more sweeping, more flamboyant style than his autographs of the past few decades. The three pages, which originated from the Drew "Bundini" Brown (Ali's cornerman) unclaimed storage auction sale of 1988, read as follows:
1A) "It is the knowledge of the Purpose of Life Which gives man the strength to stand in the midst of the opposing forces of Life / Muhammad Ali / Peace"; 1B) "We are too limited to see the Justice of the perfect one / Muhammad Ali / 1971"; 2) "Failure does not matter in life, to a Progressive person even a thousand failures do not matter. He keeps success before his view. And success is his, even after a thousand failures. The greatest pity is when life come to a standstill and does not move any farther; a sensible person prefers death to such a life / Muhammad Ali / Peace 1971"; 3A) "Worry comes from self-pity, When the self is forgotten, there is no Worry, Worry Comes also from fear, and fear Comes from the Clouds of ignorance, Light braks the Clouds / Muhammad Ali / Peace 1971"; 3B) "What is the soul, The soul is life, it never touches death, Death Comes to something Which the soul holds, Not to itself / Muhammad Ali / Peace 1971."
Ali wrote out and signed these quotes at a momentous time in his life. He had spent the majority of the years 1967 to 1970 barred from the professional circuit after refusing, on religious grounds, to enter the armed forces. His title of undisputed world heavyweight champion had been stripped, and Ali faced imprisonment for evading the draft. The case against him went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor in 1971. This rewarding courtroom victory, however, could not erase a bitter loss that had taken place earlier that year. In his attempt to reclaim the heavyweight crown unfairly taken from him, Ali endured the very first loss of his entire career, at the hands of Joe Frazier. Such were the circumstances that swirled around the great Muhammad Ali as he re-evaluated his life, from a hotel room in Switzerland, in these extraordinary religious meditations.
Matted and framed, along with an 8" x 10" color image, to total dimensions of 25" x 32". Full LOA from JSA.